Sunday, May 17, 2009

Geocaching Trail in Florida

I've been geocaching a few times. For those of you that aren't familiar with this addictive hobby, its like a treasure or scavenger hunt, however we use a hand-held GPS device to help navigate our way to  cache. You can find the waypoints, which are the coordinates either at websites like gecoaching.com, or from participating places (like state parks, CVB's, chambers of commerce, etc.). 
Recently I enjoyed a five day journey with some old and new friends as we traversed from Micanopy, FL (near Gainesville) all the way up to Tallahassee. Geocaching is great for individuals, couples and families. You can enjoy it locally, or as you travel. Just plug in a zipcode to where you are (going) and give it a circumference like say 2 miles, give or take and you will be provided a list of "caches", with a clever clue and the waypoints (coordinates). Everyone signs on with their own code name and when you find a cache, there is a logbook in the container for you to write your name, date and what you took and left. Each cache usually has some trinkets, some local, some for fun and they get exciting with "travel bugs" and unique coins for each cache. Then you go back onto the geocaching site and log in where you've been or if you move someone's travel bug.
Back to geocache trip.
This charming town of Micanopy, which I'd only seen from the Interstate (I-75), offers a great venue for day trippers who like antiquing, with a few local restaurants, unique shops, a bookstore and even a history museum. This rural town made a great backdrop for the movie, Doc Hollywood, several years ago. I had the pleasure of staying at a wonderful historic home and B&B, the Herlong Mansion and Inn (www.herlong.com). Micanopy is a great weekend getaway and is near many other natural, recreational and historic places. After exploring the town and seeking out the cache, we meandered down the road, Old Florida Heritage Highway to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. 
We ventured off the beaten path, a 21,000-acre prairie, marveling at the vast marsh and wet prairie vegetation. We hiked a little on the Le Chua Trail in search of the wild bison, horses, alligators, endangered sandhill cranes and bald eagles. 
From here we continued on our scavenger hunt to another spectacular park, Devil's Millhopper State Park. Here we took a short hike to the large sinkhole. It's worth walking down the winding stairs (more than 200) to the bottom of the sinkhole, with the native flora and fauna and trickling waterfalls. After a good rain the waterfalls sound like they are rushing around you, as they spill out of the limestone.
After this wonder in Florida, we took a road trip up to Stephen Foster State Park (Cultural Center), in White Springs, FL. It's no wonder this amazing State Park is one of the Nation's pride and joys. Nestled in a quaint town, teaming with history and recreational activities, Stephen Foster State Park offers some wonderful riverside log cabins to rent. They also have hiking and biking trails, and the infamous Suwannee River. After a heavy rain the Suwannee River is swollen, oftentimes covering the hiking trails. Local guides would love to take you paddling down the river to show off their treasure. The State Park also offers a museum and Carillon Tower.
The town of White Springs Incorporated in 1885, however people lived around the sulphur springs for centuries. It is rumored the Paleoindians were the first to discover the springs, however the Timucuan Indians discovered the medicinal value of the sulphur water. They considered the area to be sacred. Later the Seminole Indians came to the area, although it was an American who capitalized on it. White Springs was a bustling town in the Twentieth Century, as a resort for the wealthy and business travelers.
Drive down the road to Big Shoals for a geocache hike along the Suwannee. There are several caches hidden in the park. 

2 comments:

Holiday Park Breaks said...

Sounds like great fun, I will have to see if there is anything like this in the UK, if so I think I will give it a go.

Adventure Girl said...

Thanks for posting. it was a great trip. Geocaching is addictive. And I believe its in the UK, its in man countries. Hence the "travel bug". This is an item someone will leave in a container (cache) along with a tag asking to go somewhere. Someone once put satin lips in a container and asked to kiss the blarney stone and sure enough a few months later made it all the way to Ireland! There are many variations, or ways to play; virtual, multi-county or state, even to several countries to finish a leg.